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Hot, dry weather encourages gypsy moth population

Make sure you water your trees during a dry spell.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The hot, dry weather not only stresses trees out, but it also encourages gypsy moth populations.

Specifically, the caterpillars that turn into gypsy moths have a big appetite for oak leaves, which is a problem for Grand Rapids—Tree City USA.

Arborist Bill Drews says that the gypsy moth infestation affecting trees in Grand Rapids is the worst he's seen since the 1980s. Drews is the owner of Woodland Tree Services.

"The egg masses would be just in crevices of the bark or under shaggy-type bark areas. There's been areas that we have found where there's a lot of that material on the trees," said Drews. "Remarkably so and more than we've seen in a lot of years. But that's primarily in the hot spots."

The feeding stage is nearly over, and the caterpillars are changing into adult moths. These moths are laying eggs that will remain dormant until next spring when the cycle starts over again.

There are naturally occurring fungi or bacteria that can kill many of the eggs before they hatch, and there are spray treatments available.

In the meantime, make sure you water your trees during a dry spell. If you find the fuzzy egg masses on any of your trees, you can scrape those patches off and put them into a bucket of soapy water.

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